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Smokehouse Deli

The Busride creates a curious narrative of Mumbai by sketching on the walls of this newly opened restaurant.

Smokehouse Deli


December 21st, 2011

For the creative minds at The Busride, the location of Smokehouse Deli in one of Mumbai’s old textile mills set in motion an ambitious plan to draw out a narrative of the city, one that only the most persistent sleuth could decipher.

“We came up with a goldmine of information and trivia about this fantastic city,” recalls Ayaz Basrai, an industrial designer and the studio’s proprietor.

“We then proceeded to draw tangential, irreverent references to the bizarre history of cotton, the bizarre history of political movements, events surrounding the mill’s controversial history, and elements of Mumbai’s and the world’s Industrial past.

Smokehouse Deli


On the surface, the illustrations appear as pretty wallpaper but those who delve deeper will find rich albeit bizarre references to the city. “Most clues are hidden behind parody, so it would take a bent mind to decipher all of them,” says Basrai.

Smokehouse Deli

Most of the drawings were inspired by the “weird” stories they had read. “For example, while researching the history of cotton, we came upon the bizarre story of the “Vegetable Lamb of Tartary”, a legendary zoophyte of Central Asia, believed to grow sheep as its fruit. The sheep were connected to the plant by an umbilical cord and grazed the land around the plant. When all the plants were gone, both the plant and sheep died.”

Smokehouse Deli


“So we’ve illustrated a clue to this story in the Deli, which allows guests to be able to find out a strange thing by just Googling it. It ties in fact, fancy, and the fact that this mill was an old textile mill.

“We essentially created a hyperlinked mental map over the entire restaurant, which allows for interesting conversation starters, and factoids, which always contribute to the success of a space.

Smokehouse Deli

Smokehouse Deli

It took the team 21 days to complete the illustrations, which cover all conceivable surfaces including walls, columns, beams, doors and panelling, as well as eccentric props.

Smokehouse Deli

“The Smokehouse Deli project allowed us to explore city pride, something that’s really big right now in India,” says Basrai. “We’re going through this massive Renaissance, and we’d like to believe Smokehouse Deli features as a sweet part of that exciting new landscape.”

The Busride

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